Casino Workers Deserve Better: American Lung Association Advocates for Smokefree Air in All Workplaces

New Study Confirms High Levels of Secondhand Smoke Found in Casinos Puts Workers’ Health at Serious Risk

(May 7, 2009)

Statement of Charles D. Connor, American Lung Association President and CEO:

A new report released by the federal government supports what we have long suspected: casino workers are among an unprotected class of workers facing serious health risks caused by secondhand smoke exposure.

The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, finds casino workers had measureable levels of chemicals in their blood stream caused by secondhand smoke exposure from their casino workplaces. Casino workers also reported respiratory symptoms caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. The report recommends that smoking be prohibited in casinos and that cessation services be provided to casino employees to help them quit smoking. 

The American Lung Association believes no one should have to breathe secondhand smoke as a condition of their work. We urge states to join our Smokefree Air Challenge by passing comprehensive smokefree air laws that protect all workers.

The consequences are too real to ignore. After working for more than two decades in a well known casino, Vinnie Rennich found that he had become stricken with lung cancer despite never having smoked tobacco products. Vinnie was fired from his job after becoming a vocal advocate for the health of other casino workers.

The same rights most office workers take for granted must be extended to all workers, including bar, restaurant and casino workers. States should pass comprehensive laws protecting all workers so that they don't have to sacrifice their health to earn a paycheck.

Join the American Lung Association in telling elected officials that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Smokefree air laws protect the public's health while not harming business.